New government legislation on renting came into force on this week. Landlords must now check the immigration status of their tenants or face fines of thousands of pounds.
Renters already had to prove their identities to landlords and letting agents, ideally by showing a passport.
Now, if renters can’t provide a passport showing their immigration status in the UK, they will be required to show documents that give them either a so-called unlimited right to rent, or a time-limited right to rent. This second category would apply to people living in the UK on temporary visas, including students from outside the EU.
To avoid fines, landlords will now be required to carry out regular checks on their tenants to make sure that their immigration status still gives them the right to rent in the UK.
If they don’t, they could now face a penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they let property to people who do not have the right to rent. Landlords will also be obliged to report any changes in tenants’ immigration status to the Home Office, and face fines if they don’t.
The new rules do not apply to all forms of rented housing, however. A spokesperson from Tower Hamlets council said: “These regulations apply to private landlords. Local authorities are exempt because housing entitlements according to immigration status are already covered by other statutory regulations.’’